Opera Shorts at Sky Arts

Sky Arts and English National Opera have teamed up for a unique collaboration with leading figures from the visual arts to produce a set of three short films. Werner Herzog, Sam Taylor-Wood and Dougal Wilson’s short-films each accompany a popular aria from ENO’s 2008/09 Sky Arts Season, ready to be broadcast on Sky Arts throughout February.

Sky Arts Barber of Seville directed by Dougal Wilson


Herzog’s “O Soave Fanciulla” (Oh you vision of beauty) from La Bohème, is set in Africa. Sam Taylor-Wood covers “Vesti la Giubba” (On with the Greasepaint) from Pagliacci. Dougal Wilson, whose music video for Coldplay’s Life in Technicolour came out recently, provided a humorous take on “Largo al Factotum” (Here at your service to do or die) from The Barber Of Seville.

Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube (HD)

The varied body of work was produced to celebrate six years of Sky Arts’ season sponsorship of ENO and both organisations’ commitment to widening the appeal of opera. Set to recordings by ENO Orchestra conducted by ENO Music Director Edward Gardner, they feature singers Peter Auty, Geraint Dodd, Mary Plazas and Mark Stone. The films will be shown in an exclusive documentary, Opera Shorts: Behind The Scenes, on Sky Arts. Featuring interviews with all three directors, and their films in full, the programme will reveal the story behind this innovative project.

John Berry, Artistic Director of ENO, commented: “These wonderful short films show how ENO is using film to respond to opera in a distinctive, surprising way by involving contemporary visual artists in our work. The six year partnership with Sky Arts has resulted in some groundbreaking new productions at ENO and we are thrilled to be part of this unique collaboration in celebration of our work together. We have actively developed new media and online content as one of ENO’s founding principles is to engage people with opera and this is a great example of how inspirational opera can be.”

Werner Herzog explained: “I’ve no doubt that the film shorts will generate interest from a whole new generation of music lovers – the results are fantastic. Filming in High Definition in Africa allowed us to juxtapose the traditions of opera with a real innovative setting, the uniqueness of which is hopefully reflected in the final film.”

Sam Taylor-Wood commented: “I’m really happy to be involved in such a great project. I think by capturing one of opera’s most moving moments in a film short, we have put a modern spin on the aria.”

Pop video director Dougal Wilson remarked: “I’m used to working with artists such as Goldfrapp and Will Young, so working with ENO presented me with a really fresh challenge. Directing an opera short allowed me to apply modern artistic disciplines to a traditional source to hopefully create a really engaging piece of work.”

“Our partnership with the ENO has seen some truly remarkable productions and initiatives come to life,” comments James Hunt, acting channel manager of Sky Arts. “Opera Shorts is another great example of this – and we hope that by combining the contemporary relevance of these brilliant directors, the cutting-edge technology of our High Definition services and the heritage and skill of ENO, we can broaden the appeal of this art form even more.

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